July 07, 2010

McNair scholars to present research projects

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill -- Students in a Southern Illinois University Carbondale program geared toward preparing them for careers in research will present their latest work during an event and competition this week at the University.

The annual McNair Scholars Research Symposium is the culmination of the eight-week Summer Research Institute, which helps students prepare for graduate school by pairing them with faculty mentors on research projects. Students and faculty will present their results beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, July 9, at the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and broadcast news crews are welcome to cover the McNair Scholars Research Symposium, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 9, at the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library. For more information, contact Rhetta Seymour, interim director of the McNair Scholars Program, at 618/453-4585.

Organizers have scheduled about a dozen students and their mentors to give research presentations during the program, which kicks off with opening remarks by John A. Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate school. A panel of faculty judges will evaluate their work and presentations.

The students are part of the McNair Scholars Program at SIUC, which is named for the late Ronald E. McNair, a physicist and astronaut who died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

The program provides enriched instruction for low-income, first-generation or otherwise disadvantaged students. It emphasizes strong mentoring, professional development and research opportunities that promote academic excellence and encourage success at the graduate level.

Rhetta Seymour, interim director of the program, said the Summer Research Institute and Friday’s symposium encourage students to push themselves and achieve excellence beyond which they thought they were capable.

“They are doing things that even they didn’t know they could do,” Seymour said. “They are having new experiences, multi-tasking and staying focused, working on their public speaking and their writing skills.

“These programs give them an intense experience,” she said. “Many of them haven’t pictured themselves as researchers in the past, but this helps them see that and helps them continue their educations and become leaders.”

Students apply to become McNair scholars during the sophomore year at SIUC, with those selected participating during their junior and senior years. Scholars take two specialized classes and work closely with faculty members on original research. The Summer Research Institute focuses on research, team-building and communications skills, among others.

This year’s research topics range from the effects of behavior and emotional impairments on peer relationships among young people to a survey of airport management education requirements and the portrayal of black women in women’s magazines. Students also will give reports on optimizing protein recovery from gels, creative problem solving, the determining factors of who hires tax preparation services, and how well standardized tests predict success, among others.